Former Executive Chair at Parcel2Go on Finding the Right Partner, at the Right Time

Tell us a little bit about Parcel2Go

Parcel2Go’s business is two-fold. At our core, we are a courier comparison site, helping small shippers in the e-commerce space find the most affordable and efficient way to ship parcels to their customers. We compare delivery services across more than 35 carriers including Royal Mail, UPS and Evri. This enables sellers to select a shipping service based on their preferred speed and characteristics at a competitive price to make their business more effective and profitable. We handle everything from customer enquiries and tracking to claims. The other side of our business operates on a white label basis for a number of major carriers and marketplaces to provide them with an effective shipping method for online parcel orders.

And what is the scale of business today in terms of people and operations?

Operationally, our current headcount is about 250-300. Customer-wise, we have around a million people using the service every year. Annual parcel numbers come out to about 20 million which shows, on average, the typical customer is sending 20 parcels. Rather than waiting in a queue at your local Post Office – as 10 million people do every year – Parcel2Go provides a timely and cost-efficient way for small business owners or individuals with a side hustle to ship their items. Other comparison sites do exist, but we are the market leader in terms of operational scale and customer base.

What were you looking for in a partner as you expanded?

There were a large number of private equity houses expressing interest in the business during our search back in 2019. We wanted to grow our market presence and build out our team, so we were looking for a partner that could not only provide capital injection but hands-on support to facilitate near and long-term growth.

In terms of how we wanted the relationship to work, there are lots of different private equity strategies out there, but many firms think they can run the business better than the management team. For Parcel2Go, while we’ve always had an open culture about accepting new ideas, advice and input, we just really love running the business. So, we were looking for an investor who understood this and could offer added support and guidance.

How did you determine Mayfair would be the right fit?

What distinguished Mayfair initially was the genuine interest they expressed in our business. I still vividly remember after our first presentation at their office when the team said they wanted to visit our headquarters. Bear in mind, our business is based in Bolton, and their office is in London. But two partners came the very next day; they weren’t messing around. Before the transaction concluded, we had the opportunity to meet with all the Mayfair partners, and it felt like we knew everybody who would be involved in a potential relationship.

From the beginning, Mayfair understood our vision for how we wanted to operate and instilled trust in our management team. This dynamic allowed us to continue business as usual while benefiting from Mayfair’s specialist support to help us in the next stages of growth.

Talk a little more about the specialist support

Mayfair creates an Active Partnership Plan through which they work with teams at every level to drive growth across a number of areas. Rob Curwen, who is a specialist in Operational Effectiveness at Mayfair, led the development of our tailored Active Partnership Plan including building it into our board pack so that progress against it could be reported monthly.

There were two key areas where Mayfair provided support in our growth phase: HR and marketing. On the HR side, we were looking to hire our first CFO and worked with Jana Klimecki, Mayfair’s Specialist in Human Capital, to find the right candidate. She ran the entire recruitment process, from the first interviews to fee negotiations with the head-hunter; she even provided a strong, direct opinion on the candidates as if she was a senior HR professional within our business. Her judgement was exceptional. Since Mayfair’s investment, our headcount has increased by 40%.

We also wanted some help analysing the market’s evolution over the course of our partnership. We were introduced to Nick Keegan, Mayfair’s Specialist in Marketing Effectiveness, who is an absolute expert in this area. He did a full assessment of our operations, wrote briefs for marketing agencies, and reviewed any outputs from agencies to help increase our data analytics and offline marketing capabilities. Our website traffic has grown by 65% since Mayfair’s investment.

Mayfair doesn’t simply give a rolodex of contacts when support is requested, they really have spent tens, if not hundreds of hours collaborating with us to achieve our growth ambitions. And that comes for free, which is a price point that I find quite attractive!

As Parcel2Go has reached growth milestones and achieved near term goals, how have your investor relationships evolved?

I met with two Mayfair partners outside their office in September 2020 to discuss the business’ success over the previous 18 months and next steps for a partial exit. The Mayfair team helped us every step of the way including with negotiations. We used Mayfair’s exit planning toolkit, developed by Paul Reading, to ensure that we were perfectly prepared for the next round of investment and stage of our growth.

Parcel2Go’s majority stake is now held by EQT, and we’re very happy partnering with them now that we are past our initial growth stages. Of course, Mayfair still has a seat at the top table as they attend all our board meetings. The Mayfair team also continue to provide support with Jana helping to build our leadership team and Nick with marketing agency procurement.

If I need to pick up the phone to Kunal or Daniel at Mayfair, they still are available. I can’t remember a situation where an email went unanswered within half a day of being sent or a phone call that wasn’t returned. You always get a great response from them. That was the case when we initially partnered them and remains true today.